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Content by MARIA MURPHY / Photo by STEPHANIE REYNOLDS – Sports View America ….
Sports View America was at Madison Square Garden and Jimmy V Classic as Louisville fell to Texas Tech.
Tough, Disciplined Texas Tech Upsets #1 Louisville
Content by Maria Murphy
The University of Louisville men’s basketball program is no stranger to Madison Square Garden, commonly known as the World’s Most Famous Arena, having competed there 59 times in its storied history. Besides famous, the arena has been pretty friendly to the Cardinals as of late as well, with them winning their previous 10 matchups hosted there.
Tuesday night was different.
Tuesday night was the Jimmy V Classic. For the 17th year in a row, the Classic provides two matchups to raise money for the V Foundation for Cancer research, honoring the late Jim Valvano. The first game scheduled was the inaugural matchup between #1 Louisville and the Red Raiders of Texas Tech, last year’s NCAA championship runner-up.
Early advantages appeared to lean Louisville’s way. Texas Tech started the season ranked twelfth but was coming off three losses and had fallen from the rankings. Louisville preseason All-American Jordan Nwora had scored more points in the first nine games, all wins, than any other Louisville player in 20 years. Texas Tech’s leading scorer Jahmi’us Ramsey was not going to play, coming off injury. Louisville starts all experienced upperclassmen. Texas Tech is regularly playing six freshmen.
But as this early season has already shown, it is hard to keep possession of that #1 ranking.
Louisville started strong with its first score, going immediately to its fifth-year center Steven Enoch who appeared to have a big size advantage. After a couple scores by Texas Tech, Louisville made it’s first run of the game scoring eight unanswered. The couple thousand Louisville fans were on their feet, getting a sense that the early season dominance would continue.
And then Texas Tech turned up its hustle and made an 8-0 run of their own. Pesky redshirt sophomore Avery Benson was seemingly everywhere, drawing offensive fouls off Louisville drives and blocking shots. Louisville started taking quick off-balance shots and other poor decisions and was soon down nine, facing its largest deficit of the season.
Nwora struggled early making only one of his nine basket attempts in the first half. But the Cards managed to go into the break only down three, led by Enoch’s ten points.
A complete shift in momentum was needed for the Cardinals. Instead the second half began with another turnover. The strong contingent of Red Raider fans was rowdy and could sense the team was prepared for an upset.
Still the experienced Cardinals had plenty of game left, they just needed to find some offensive rhythm. Nwora fought for a hard offensive rebound and was fouled on the made follow. And he scored eight straight. It just was not enough because the Red Raiders answered each time.
Louisville cut the lead to two points but could get no closer. Back-to-back three’s by Davide Moretti extended the Texas Tech lead to eight. With eight minutes left to play, Chris Clarke hit another three and Louisville head coach Chris Mack would later call it the “dagger”.
Texas Tech finished the upset victory beating the Cardinals 70-57.
In his post-game press conference Coach Mack gave all the credit to Texas Tech, specifically their “end of clock toughness and discipline”. He also took the blame saying it is “my fault”. Mack also lamented on its team’s guard play. Louisville’s point guards combined for two assists and seven turnovers. He said, “our point guards and our guards in general have to play better”.
Louisville will look to rebound from this loss on Saturday, with a matchup at home against Eastern Kentucky at noon.